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ILO: Progress Toward Global Poverty Reduction Losing Ground

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - A 12-year-old girl sells fish on a street in the Obalende area of Lagos, Nigeria, June 17, 2014. Thousands of Nigeria's girls have to quit school to work as petty traders and support their families.

FILE - A 12-year-old girl sells fish on a street in the Obalende area of Lagos, Nigeria, June 17, 2014. Thousands of Nigeria's girls have to quit school to work as petty traders and support their families.

A new report from the International Labor Organization finds years of progress made in reducing poverty worldwide are being threatened by deteriorating economic conditions and lack of quality jobs.

The ILO has made the assessment in its just released report “World Employment and Social Outlook 2016 - Transforming Jobs to End Poverty.”

Figures show significant progress has been made in reducing global poverty. The International Labor Organization estimates the number of people in 107 emerging and developing countries living in extreme poverty, with incomes of less than $2 a day, has fallen by nearly one half in 1990 to just under 15 percent in 2012.

That progress, however, has been uneven and fragile. While significant improvements have been made in China and much of Latin America, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder says poverty remains stubbornly high in Africa and parts of Asia.

“For example, more than 40 percent of the African population continues to live in extreme poverty and some 64 percent in extreme or moderate poverty. Another element, which I think we have to pay attention to, is the fact that in the developed world, there has been an increase, an absolute increase in poverty, notably in this continent of Europe.”

Ryder adds the recent deterioration of economic prospects in Asia and Latin America foretells a bleaker future for poverty reduction in those regions.

He says economic growth in itself does not guarantee poverty alleviation. He warns income inequality in these and other countries worldwide is beginning to rise after decades of decline, further threatening the ability of people to get themselves out of the poverty trap.

“In addition, the ability of growth to reduce poverty is compromised by the inequitable income distribution, showing that the rich are taking a disproportionately high share of the benefits of growth and, in a way, could be considered partly responsible for this perpetuation of poverty.”

The ILO says the United Nations sustainable development goal of ending poverty in all its forms everywhere is at risk. The agency’s study calculates a total of $10 trillion over the next 15 years is needed to eradicate extreme and moderate poverty globally by 2030.

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